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Unicef UK baby-friendly award for UCLan

University’s midwifery degree programmes win prestigious award

The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) midwifery degree programmes have been handed the prestigious Unicef UK Baby Friendly Award. 

UCLan is the most recent university to gain recognition from Unicef UK for the high levels of education in breastfeeding provided to students on its midwifery and health visiting courses.

Instigated by Professor Fiona Dykes, lead of UCLan’s Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit (MAINN), the midwifery lecturing staff and students have worked hard to implement high standards of infant nutrition and nurture training and care.

"We focused on implementing the Baby Friendly Initiative to ensure a high standard of training in breastfeeding for all student midwives and health visitors graduating from this course,” said Megan Blease, BFI co-lead and midwifery lecturer.

Anna Byrom, BFI co-lead and senior midwifery lecturer, commented: “Following on from the success of the specialist community health nurse practitioner health visitor programme, it is wonderful to celebrate full Unicef UK BFI accreditation for our midwifery courses.

“We know that many women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of difficulties which could have been prevented if skilled help had been on hand. By ensuring that our students are fully trained in how to help a mother breastfeed her child, more women will be able to breastfeed their babies for longer.”

Following on from the success of the specialist community health nurse practitioner health visitor programme, it is wonderful to celebrate full Unicef UK BFI accreditation for our midwifery courses.

Professor Fiona Dykes added: "Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses in infancy and childhood and reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers […] However a mother decides to feed her baby, she can be sure that she will be supported to form a strong loving relationship with her newborn – through having early and continued skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”

The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies. In the UK, the initiative works with UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships. Support for these relationships is important for all babies, not only those who are breastfed.

The Unicef UK Baby Friendly University Award was launched in the UK in 2008 – the first such award anywhere in the world, in order to ensure high levels of education in breastfeeding are incorporated in midwifery and health visitor training courses. The University Award recognises that a university has implemented best practice in breastfeeding education, and has passed a thorough a rigorous external assessment by Unicef UK staff.

Programme Director for Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative Sue Ashmore said "We are delighted that University of Central Lancashire has received this award.

“Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Becoming Baby Friendly Accredited means that the University of Central Lancashire is addressing this problem and aiming to ensure more mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies in future.”

Press Office | 02 July 2018